Is Ash a Hardwood or Softwood? + Janka Hardness Rating

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Wood is classified into two main categories: hardwoods and softwoods. However, some woods, like Ash, are challenging to classify due to their unique characteristics.

To clarify the confusion of whether ash wood is a hardwood or softwood, I focused on the factors commonly considered in measuring wood’s resistance and explored its hardness rating to gain a better understanding of this wood’s unique characteristics.

How Dense Is Ash Wood?

The Janka hardness test reveals that Ash wood has a substantially greater level of hardness than most other wood types, encompassing both hardwood and softwood species.

In addition, ash wood has a ring-porous structure, which, as a hardwood, contributes to its high density. The ash wood’s wood grain pores help to regulate its growth, resulting in a denser and harder wood.

ash wood

To ease your curiosity about how dense ash wood is and compare it with other woods, below are various types with their own Janka hardness rating:

Wood Species



Douglas Fir

660 pounds-force (lbf)

2900 newtons (N)

Shortleaf and Loblolly Yellow Pine

690 pounds-force (lbf)

3100 newtons (N)

Silver Maple

700 pounds-force (lbf)

3100 newtons (N)

Red Maple

950 pounds-force (lbf)

4200 newtons (N)

Imbuia Black Cherry

950 pounds-force (lbf)

4200 newtons (N)


995 pounds-force (lbf)

4430 newtons (N)

North American Black Walnut

1010 pounds-force (lbf)

4500 newtons (N)


1155 pounds-force (lbf)

5140 newtons (N)

Heart Pine

1225 pounds-force (lbf)

5450 newtons (N)

Baltic (Yellow) Birch

1260 pounds-force (lbf)

5600 newtons (N)

Northern Red Oak

1290 pounds-force (lbf)

5700 newtons (N)

American Beech

1300 pounds-force (lbf)

5800 newtons (N)

White Ash Wood

1320 pounds-force (lbf)

5900 newtons (N)

White Oak

1360 pounds-force (lbf)

6000 newtons (N)

Australian Cypress

1375 pounds-force (lbf)

6120 newtons (N)

Sugar Maple (Hard Maple)

1450 pounds-force (lbf)

6400 newtons (N)

Wenge, Red Pine, Hornbeam

1630 pounds-force (lbf)

7300 newtons (N)

African Padauk

1725 pounds-force (lbf)

7670 newtons (N)


1780 pounds-force (lbf)

7900 newtons (N)

Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood

1820 pounds-force (lbf)

8100 newtons (N)


1860 pounds-force (lbf)

8300 newtons (N)

Golden Teak

2330 pounds-force (lbf)

10400 newtons (N)

Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba)

2350 pounds-force (lbf)

10500 newtons (N)

Red Mahogany (Turpentine)

2697 pounds-force (lbf)

12000 newtons (N)

Brazilian Walnut

3684 pounds-force (lbf)

16390 newtons (N)

Characteristics of Ash Wood

Ash wood is strong and durable with a light color and straight grain, making it suitable for various uses such as frames, tools, and furniture. However, ash wood is known to be lighter than other hardwoods like oak and hickory, despite its strength and density.

The wood’s porous composition allows it to absorb paint and stain effectively. However, ash wood has low resistance to decay and insects. So, I wouldn’t recommend it for outdoor use.

Thus, ash wood should not be kept in contact with the ground as it may start to decay over time. Below, I have elaborated on specific characteristics of ash wood to help you get to know more about this wood.

characteristics of ash wood

Where to Use Ash

Due to the abundance of products made of ash wood available in the market, individuals frequently ponder about the comparisons of ash wood with other types of wood and the experience of possessing furniture made of ash wood.

From my experience, ashwood possesses excellent durability, strength, and density, which makes it an ideal material for various woodworking projects. Also, it has a lightweight composition, attractive appearance, and readily absorbs wood stains.

Since ancient times, ash wood has been utilized for diverse objectives, such as crafting weapons and wagons, as well as attributing spiritual healing and prosperity. Nowadays, it is still commonly used as a material for making various items which I have elaborated on below:

where to use ash

How Strong Is Ash Lumber?

Ash wood is recognized as one of the most robust types of wood globally, with a 7,410 pounds per square inch (psi) compressive strength and a 15,000 pounds per square inch (psi) bending strength, which surpasses that of any other hardwood known to us.

Thus, ash wood’s strength allows it to be easily nailed, screwed, and glued. In addition, its lightweight nature allows it to maintain its strength, making it a highly desirable quality.

The strength of ash wood enables effortless nailing, screwing, and gluing. Furthermore, its lightweight characteristics contribute to its enduring strength, making it an exceptionally desirable attribute.

Furthermore, these unique characteristics make ash wood a superior option for building construction and crafting high-quality furniture.

Ash Hardwood Flooring

Ash wood’s outstanding density, hardness, and strength, as reflected in its 1,320 pounds-force (lbf) or 5,900 newtons (N) Janka hardness rating [1], makes it an ideal option for flooring applications.

ash hardwood flooring

In addition to its ability to withstand foot traffic, ash wood also exhibits excellent resistance to dents and scratches. Moreover, compared to other hardwoods utilized for flooring, ash wood has superior workability. 

I’ve put together a list of pros and cons for using ash as flooring, based on my own hands-on experience. It’s a handy guide to help you decide if ash wood is the right fit for your flooring project.

Pros and Cons of Ash Wood Flooring


Ash Wood vs Maple

pros and cons of ash wood

Ash and maple are both light-colored hardwoods with a tight, even grain, although ash has a more noticeable grain than maple. Both kinds of wood are highly shock-absorbent and popular choices for furniture, flooring, pool cues, and baseball bats.

In terms of hardness, ash wood falls between soft Maple and hard Maple, being harder than the former but softer than the latter. For those who like to get technical, I’ve compiled their Janka hardness ratings to give you an even clearer picture of how they stack up. Both woods have their merits, but understanding their subtle differences can help you choose the right one for your project.


Ash Wood

Soft Maple

Hard Maple

Janka Hardness Rating

1320 pounds-force (lbf)

950 pounds-force (lbf)

1450 pounds-force (lbf)

Ash vs Oak Wood

Ash and oak, both hardwoods, differ mainly in terms of their hardness, with ash being a bit harder than oak. In addition, the grain pattern of ash is not as prominent as oak. However, ash and oak are both types of hardwood used for furniture, flooring, and cabinets.

Thus, to further understand and acknowledge the difference between ash and oak, I enumerated below their individual Janka hardness rating.


Ash Wood

Red Oak

White Oak

Janka Hardness Rating

1320 pounds-force (lbf)

1290 pounds-force (lbf)

1360 pounds-force (lbf)

Ash vs Hickory

Hickory hardwood possesses superior strength, durability, and shock resistance compared to Ash hardwood. Moreover, hickory hardwood has a wavy or straight grain pattern and ranges in color from brown to reddish-brown.

ash vs hickory

However, ash hardwood is less dense than hickory and, therefore, easier to manipulate when working with it. To further understand the difference between ash and hickory, below is their individual Janka hardness rating.


Ash Wood


Janka Hardness Rating

1320 pounds-force (lbf)

1820 pounds-force (lbf)


Is ash a hardwood for burning?

Yes, ash is a hardwood for burning because it produces long-lasting, intense heat and does not emit any unpleasant odor or sparks.

More articles for you:


Ash is commonly considered a hardwood due to its high density and Janka hardness rating, which measures a wood’s resistance to indentation. Moreover, it is a type of hardwood that boasts numerous exceptional characteristics, including an attractive appearance.

However, there is no definitive answer on whether ash is a hardwood or a softwood. Nonetheless, its characteristics suggest that it is more similar to hardwoods than softwoods.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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